Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘boston’

Honduran Immigrant Detained By ICE Released After 6 Months In Custody

Photo: Getty Images
Two suburban moms learned that asylum seekers lack even the minimal protections of refugees and decided to do something to help them.

Although there are not many refugees coming through at the moment, those that do have official government status and a range of support services when they arrive. Asylum seekers have nothing, and if they don’t have someone to stay with until their case is heard, they are likely to be held in jail, unable to get working papers and start supporting themselves.

Two women in a Boston suburb decided they had to do something to help.

Betsy Levinson reported at the Concord Journal, “Helping asylum-seekers is a two-way street, say the two Concord women who founded a nonprofit in 2014 to offer housing and emotional support to a vulnerable population.

“ ‘Our guests have become our friends,’ said Sharon Carlson, who founded Dignity in Asylum (DIAS) with Andrea Hewitt. …

“The main mission of DIAS is to pay for transitional housing, since asylum-seekers are not eligible for any government support while they go through the lengthy and arduous process of gaining a work permit. …

“ ‘They are so vulnerable,’ said Carlson. ‘They fled persecution and had to escape to save their lives.’

“Without any contacts or resources in the area, they can wind up in homeless shelters or ‘sleeping in stairwells,’ Carlson said.

“Referrals to DIAS come from two sources — the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights and Political Asylum Immigration Representation. Once they get a referral, they send out an application for housing, followed by a meeting to assess the individual need.

“Though many are highly skilled professionals in their home countries, they usually end up in low-level jobs to earn enough to transition from DIAS-supported housing to independence. But [the DIAS founders have] never heard a word of complaint.

“ ‘There is such dignity, such gratitude, such optimism,’ said Hewitt. ‘We feel lucky and grateful. They are lovely people.’ …

“Guests stay free until they get on their feet, and stay connected to the organization after they become independent.

“The outpouring of support [has] been unexpected and overwhelming, the women say.

“ ‘The attitude is so welcoming,’ said Hewitt. ‘The business community has been so supportive.’ The organization has received grants from area churches and the community chest, among other funding sources. For more information, visit dignityinasylum.org.”

More at the Concord Journal, here. I have met these women. To me, they are glowing examples of both personal morality and how a truly civilized country could show compassion for people who take initiative against overwhelming danger. Asylum seekers, managing to get themselves here despite extraordinary obstacles, show the courage and spunk that is needed in society.

 

Read Full Post »

2019-02-26-hijab

Photo: Gabrielle Emanuel/WGBH News
Shamso Ahmed has opened the first salon in Massachusetts specifically catering to Muslim women who wear hijabs, a religious head covering.

For some Muslim women, as for some Orthodox Jewish women, covering their hair in public is a religious obligation. Even though no one sees their hair when they are outside, when they are at home or among other women, they want it to look nice. Getting a good haircut at a salon can be a challenge, though.

As a young Virginia woman in a 2013 PRI story said, “There’s a JC Penney that has a hair salon nearby and they kind of stick you in a back storage room, and it’s okay, you still get a haircut, but it’s not the greatest atmosphere and you do kind of feel like you’re being shoved in a corner. It’s nice when they have the real chairs, especially when you’re going to pay that much for a haircut.”

Luckily in Boston, there’s a salon specifically for hijab-wearing women. Gabrielle Emanuel has the story,

“For most people, going to a beauty salon and getting a haircut is routine. But for Muslim women in Massachusetts who cover their hair for religious reasons, it can be a real challenge. At a traditional hair salon, they risk men seeing them without their headscarves on.

“But that is now changing. Massachusetts’ first salon and spa established specifically for Muslim women opened. … Shamso Ahmed is the woman behind the new business. She says she’s been dreaming about this since she was a young girl.

“At the age of 10, Shamso Ahmed fled the civil war in Somalia and arrived in Boston with her family. Two years later, she started wearing a hijab, a Muslim head covering, and that’s when she came up with the idea of opening a salon.

“ ‘I envisioned this huge, big salon that had all the services you could think of,’ remembered Ahmed. She wanted a place where ‘women felt safe.’

“Now, some two decades later, Ahmed has a degree in accounting and training in cosmetology. And she has a salon. While it’s not huge, the storefront is decked out. …

“In a neighborhood peppered with beauty shops, what makes Shamso Hair Studio and Spa unique is not the silver and black décor — or even the henna body art or the hammam steam spa — it is who is allowed in and who is not.

“Ahmed says the space is carefully designed to be female-only. At the door there’s a camera and a code required. The windows are frosted so people walking past can’t see in.

“For Muslim women who wear hijabs, Ahmed says it’s long been hard to find a place to get your hair done. … She said some women go to a salon and befriend a stylist, asking them to come to their home. Others ask to go to a salon after it’s closed for the day or they get their hair done in a backroom. Still others rely on female relatives.

“When Ahmed isn’t working on her other business, a translation service, she has often worked as a stylist going from house to house. Now, Ahmed is hoping her clients and others will come to her salon. …

“Ahmed said there’s been a lot of enthusiasm in the Muslim community, and people came from other states just to attend the opening. ‘Maine, Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire,’ she ticked off the places. ‘Some of them came from Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, DC.’ …

“For Ahmed, this isn’t just a childhood dream she’s fulfilling. She said she’s also living out her mother’s dream, who owned a small business in Somalia before war broke out.”

More at PRI, here. There are a couple similar salons in Virginia. Read about them here.

Read Full Post »

The Louis D. Brown Peace Walk in Boston has been supporting survivors of violent crime for a quarter century.

The nonprofit’s concern is for the people who are left behind after a violent death — the mothers, the fathers, the children, the siblings, the classmates, the communities. Sometimes the ongoing needs of these survivors get lost. In Boston, some of the bereaved families have banded together to help others heal. They have taken the lead in standing against violence and have invited residents of the Greater Boston area to join them. Nonprofit groups, churches, mosques, synagogues, and individuals arrive from the suburbs in droves.

Here are a few photos from this year’s walk, which is always held on Mother’s Day.

I loved the band that played outside Madison Park High School, where our group joined the walk. Some people carried signs. Lots of people chanted peace slogans. We passed by a mural of the great Frederick Douglass in Roxbury.

If one or two people were to walk down Tremont Street on a rainy Sunday morning, no one would notice. When many hundreds do, it’s an event.

But other than raise funds for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute outreach, which is valuable, does this help prevent violence? There are still homicides in Boston. But the huge gathering seems to generate an indefinable energy and awareness that sometimes leads individuals to wage peace in their own ways throughout the year.

051219-good-band-at-Peace-March-Boston

051219-good-idea-US-Dept-of-Peace

051219-Peace-Marcher-Boston

051219-Frederick-Douglass-mural-Roxbury-MA

051219-1-and-2-and-50-make-a-million

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

orchestr981

Photo: Handel & Haydn Society via AP / Chris Petre-Baumer
The Handel & Haydn Society performing Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral” at Symphony Hall in Boston on May 5, 2019. After the performance, the orchestra sought to find and thank the boy who cried “Wow!”

I have a story for you that is sweet on so many levels. You may like it for the support the concert audience gave a young boy or for the wish of the Handel & Haydn Society to find and thank the boy for his response to their music.

I think I like it most because of the way this grandfather is with his grandson.

As Kaitlyn Locke reports at WGBH radio, “Seconds after the orchestra stopped playing Mozart’s ‘Masonic Funeral Music’ at the Boston Symphony Hall on Sunday, 9-year-old Ronan Mattin was so swept away by the music that he loudly exclaimed — for the whole auditorium to hear — ‘Wow!’

“After a beat, as Ronan’s awe-filled ‘Wow!’ echoed throughout the hall, the audience burst into laughter and cheers. So charmed were the Handel and Haydn Society by the child’s exclamation that they asked the public to help find him, hoping to reward the sweet sentiment with a trip to meet the artistic director. …

“Ronan didn’t mean to be disruptive, said his grandfather, Stephen Mattin, who took Ronan to the concert. His grandson, Mattin explained, is on the autism spectrum, and often expresses himself differently than other people.

” ‘I can count on one hand the number of times that [he’s] spontaneously ever come out with some expression of how he’s feeling,’ Mattin said.

“Mattin said that his sister-in-law saw on television that the Handel and Haydn Society was searching for the ‘wow kid,’ and the family, who lives in Kensington, New Hampshire, reached out soon after. The Society has invited them to meet the artistic director, and they are figuring out a date.

“Ronan is a huge music fan, his grandfather said. He took the 9-year-old to another concert in Boston a few months ago, and he ‘talked about nothing else for weeks.’ …

David Snead, the president and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society, wrote in a Facebook post that it was ‘one of the most wonderful moments [he’s] experienced in the concert hall.’ …

“Mattin said he was touched by the kindness of the other audience members and performers after the ‘wow’ moment, and that the Society reached out.

” ‘You know, everybody’s different. Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves,’ Mattin said. ‘I think people in general, society’s becoming more tolerant or understanding of the differences between people.’ ”

More here.

Read Full Post »

30,000 Runners

081518-Marathon-finish-line

I confess that the picture above was taken last August when there were no crowds. It was the cherished goal of 30,000 runners today, including Erik.

After the Boston Marathon downpour last year, when Stuga40 was properly dressed and I wasn’t, I ordered a gigantic blue poncho and a pair of baggy rain pants from LL Bean. Today was the first day I wore the outfit. It wasn’t needed: the rain let up for the whole time I was outdoors.

Results from Boston Marathon 2019, reported by Hayden Bird at the Boston Globe:

“Men’s wheelchair: Daniel Romanchuk of the United States wins, becoming the first American man to win the wheelchair division in Boston since 1993. He’s also the youngest winner in that category ever.

“Women’s wheelchair: Switzerland’s Manuela Schär won her second Boston Marathon.

“Women’s race: Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia won in her first attempt in Boston with an unofficial time of 2:23:31.

“Men’s race: Lawrence Cherono of Kenya won the men’s race.”

Erik, a frequent Marathon runner, had the very respectable time of 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 2 seconds.

Here I am honoring Erik’s birthplace with my Swedish regalia, standing in sunshine and expecting rain. My husband took the picture where we usually watch — in Newton, near the Marathon statues.

041519-ready-for-Marathon-rain

 

Read Full Post »

taylorarts17sheltermusic_0011

Photo: Katherine Taylor for the Boston Globe
Eureka Ensemble, whose mission is to nurture social change, launched a Women’s Chorus that welcomes women experiencing severe poverty and homelessness.

How does one write a headline for a story like this? It’s not exactly about music giving homeless people hope. It’s more that focusing on music — music performed for you and music you make — activates a positive side of who you are. It’s that positive things can lead to other positive things.

During the 2018 Christmas season, there was quite a bit of comfort and joy being spread by music in the Greater Boston homeless community. Zoë Madonna wrote about it at the Boston Globe.

“The CASPAR homeless shelter, a low-slung brick building, crouches on Albany Street in Cambridge. When percussionist Jennie Dorris wheels her marimba through the front door, half of a large central room has been cleared, and a line of grizzled men sits at a long row of tables, watching. An enthusiastic older man in a Boston Strong T-shirt marches up, introducing himself as Danny. ‘Finally, the marimba’s here!’ he exclaims, grinning. ‘I wait all year for this.’…

” ‘What compels me is to take music where it’s needed and treat everyone with respect,’ says founder Julie Leven, a violinist. This year, its eighth, Shelter Music Boston has mounted scores of concerts in shelters throughout the Greater Boston area, including a full schedule in the days leading up to Christmas.

“It’s not the only music group focusing on the homeless around Boston. Eureka Ensemble, whose mission is to nurture social change, launched a Women’s Chorus that welcomes women experiencing severe poverty and homelessness. …

“Eureka’s most ambitious project, according to cofounder and conductor Kristo Kondakci, was a commissioned composition, Stephanie Ann Boyd’s ‘Sheltering Voices.’ Auditions for choral fellowships for women were held at Pine Street Inn and Women’s Lunch Place, says Kondakci, a recent graduate of New England Conservatory who has worked with the homeless since his student days at Boston College High School. Around 15 took part.

“Carrie Jaynes and Rottisha Mewborn are friends who met at Pine Street Inn. When they saw the audition sign-up sheet, they were initially skeptical, they say — they’re used to well-meaning outsiders putting in a few hours and then disappearing. But they went to the audition in March, in a room where the heater was going haywire. To cool it down, Kondakci threw open the door of a nearby freezer.

“And that, Mewborn says, put them at ease. … As Eureka Fellows, Jaynes and Mewborn rehearsed weekly with Kondakci, learning ‘Sheltering Voices.’ They were never treated as anything less than important and independent, they say.

“ ‘We became so desensitized at Pine Street that we forgot how we can be treated like a normal person,’ says Jaynes. At the rehearsals, she says, ‘we knew that we were in this together. We knew that we were all right . . . we could be human again. We could show emotion and not be judged if we cried, or laughed, or showed a softer side of us.’ …

“Shelter staff say that after Shelter Music Boston concerts, the atmosphere is more peaceful, and nights are more restful, notes Leven, who also plays with Handel and Haydn Society and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. …

“As for the Eureka fellowships, Jaynes and Mewborn say their experiences were powerful. ‘Having Kristo say “We’ll get you there no matter what” built up our trust and our safety,’ Mewborn says. Because Pine Street Inn has a daily lottery, she explains, she never knows if she’ll have a bed to sleep in each night. There’s little in her life she can truly count on. ‘So just having this little safety — even if things are going crazy out here, we can get there — it’s amazing.’ ”

More here.

Read Full Post »

tlumackihomeless306

Photo: John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Cathy Corbett got her hair cut at HER on a recent Saturday. HER is a weekly event from the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

When I think of all the health care I’m able to utilize (cataract surgery today, for example), my heart breaks for people who don’t have coverage. A special program in Boston aims to help homeless women get some of what they need while also lifting their spirits with fun activities.

Elise Takahama writes at the Boston Globe, “Linda Winn … sobered up six months ago, but she’s been battling homelessness for the past year. Winn, a 51-year-old Somerville native, said she’s working with a few organizations to find permanent housing, but for now, she is staying at Woods-Mullen, a South End homeless shelter.

“A few months ago, she discovered a haven of medical care — and free haircuts — just around the corner..

” ‘I started coming a few months ago. I love the staff. It’s been helping with depression, helping with any problem I might have,’ said Winn. …

“In one corner, a group of women played bingo, while others danced and sang karaoke in the middle of the room. A table near the back was filled with markers, beads, and nail polish. Movies were shown in a separate room.

“All these activities are part of HER Saturday, a program that offers a medical clinic for women who have suffered abuse, are homeless, or are in need of health care services, said Melinda Thomas, the program’s associate medical director. …

“The HER Saturday program was launched in February 2016, Thomas said. When it first started, about 30 to 50 women would wander through the doors. Now, at least 100 women — sometimes up to 200 — line up at 7 a.m. every week, she said.

“The Saturday clinic not only gives the women a chance to get manicures and watch romantic comedies but also provides preventative health care services and cancer screenings, which include mammograms and Pap smears. Homeless women have higher rates of mortality from breast and cervical cancer, Thomas said. A medical provider, a nurse, a case manager, a social worker, and a behavioral health counselor are available every week.” More at the Globe, here.

Those of us who can have a medical check-up, a haircut, or a tasty meal whenever we want really should feel gratitude every day. I also feel gratitude for the people behind programs like this, which benefit us all if only indirectly.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: